Breastfed babies sleeping through

[deleted account] ( 7 moms have responded )

My 10 month old daughter still has 3-4 feeds each night, and while I don't mind feeding her, I'm always made to feel that I shouldn't be feeding her at night anymore. I always get told that they don't "need" night feeds once they're eating 3 meals a day. So I just feel that I'm doing something wrong, because every other baby seems to be sleeping 7 to 7 and mine isn't.
I can't sleep train her, because I also have a 3 year old, who is also a very light sleeper and will wake up if his sister cries. He also still doesn't sleep through at nearly 3, although no longer fed.
It's just so frustrating when I get told by family members and friends that "MY baby slept 12 hours by that age", and I just feel like I'm doing something wrong as a mother :-(
It seems that bottlefed babies are always the better sleepers, so I wonder if I have caused their sleeping problems by breastfeeding too much or too long :-(

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Katie - posted on 05/22/2012

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Hi Dana, if you're happy and baby is healthy then you are doing nothing wrong. I think it's true that formula fed newborns sleep better - this is because they wake from hunger and formula takes longer to digest. A 10 month old is probably waking out of habit and because your (perfectly reasonable) response has been to nurse at these times her body expects milk. If you want to cut out a feeding you can time it every night and gradually cut down the number of minutes at the breast. Once you are down to one minute you can try offering hugs instead of milk. It would probably be easiest on bub if you cut out feedings one at a time. I don't think there's any such thing as breastfeeding too much in the first 12 months, so long as you are offering some solids. The too long part is up to you to decide.

By the way, babies sleep requirements differ from child to child. My 6 month old sleeps about 12.5 hours per day, I tried to keep her in bed 7 to 7 and it just resulted in her being up from 1-3 am every night. She does great on 10 hours at night and 2.5 hours distributed over 3 naps.@

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Margarita - posted on 05/29/2012

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Ugh! Can I just say how much I hate people who say "Well MY child..." I suspect many of them simply forgot how it really was - seriously, my mother often gets her stories about me and my brother confused, and we were raised 10 years apart.

OK, issue one, as Katie said, there is no such thing as breastfeeding too much. You can talk to your pediatrician about how much solids to feed, but as for the actual breast milk, it varies depending on each babies individual needs, and some need more than others, take more feedings that are shorter, etc. As for the too long, the AAP recommends nursing until at least 12 months, and the World Health Organization recommends it until at least age 2 and possibly 4 (though most of us will be ready to give it up sooner than that, I stopped at 20 months myself). Soooo, no you haven't been breast feeding too long, and don't need to stop until either of you is good and ready (sometimes both are ready at the same time, but usually one is first and the other learns to adapt). Now, if YOU want to introduce a formula feeding, that is certainly your prerogative and they do make at least one night time formula (I think it's Enfamil) that may help. However, it should be because it's what you and your doctor feel is right for your family, not because it's what others think you should be doing.

On sleep training, there are a number of books on the subject, including the No Cry Sleep Solution and you can certainly purchase or check out at your local library. With another child in the house, you may want to hold off on any CIO (Cry it Out) methods since you mentioned he's a light sleeper. Having said that, you can try holding off for a little bit (maybe 5 minutes) to see if your munchkin settles herself back to sleep before rushing in. There are a number of reasons why she could be waking, from teething to growth spurts, etc and off course, from being unable to soothe herself to sleep. If you and your ped have ruled out medical issues, and you don't see any pearly whites cutting through (you can try some Hylands teething tablets or gel for that), you can start looking at other possibilities. Try introducing a "lovey" - usually a stuffed animal or security blanket your munchkin can hold onto at night. I wouldn't go for a pacifier this late in the game, but perhaps a bottle with some water for thirst may cut it. If possible, you can give that one to dad so you're not exhausted, and he can offer cuddles and hugs. On that note, it's a good idea to try to give her a little drink of water after nursing to prevent tooth decay (brushing her teeth would defeat the purpose of putting her back to bed).

Good luck. I don't miss all the wakings, though at three, she's insisting on sleeping with us and as we all know, sometimes you'll just agree so you can get some sleep.

Michelle - posted on 05/23/2012

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Breastmilk is a lot more easily digested than formula so bf babys tend to get hungry sooner. I would suggest trying to gradually space out the night feedings. Like delay the feedings by a half hour each night for a week, then add another half hour, and so on and so forth. When my daughter was 6 months she was still nursing 2-3 times a night and I was able top stretch out her feedings to one in the middle of her 12 hours of sleep. I highly reccomend the book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Poblems" by Richard Ferber. It has an entire section on nighttime feedings as well as having older children and children being light sleepers.

Rebekah - posted on 05/23/2012

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Three to four times seems like a lot to me-- breastfed or not. How are you surviving on that much interrupted sleep?!? My son is only 7 months old and I'm exhausted when he wakes twice a night. Both of my other kids (one breastfed, one formula fed) did not sleep from 7 to 7 until they were after a year old, but by 10 months they were both only waking once (or occasionally twice). We always respond to my baby's cries in the middle of the night, but if it's been less than about 5 hours I send my husband into his room to just give him a pat or rock him back to sleep (and do not feed him).

Celeste - posted on 05/22/2012

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It has NOTHING to do with what baby is fed. Most of my friends bottle feed, and most of their babies didn't sleep through the night til they were close to 2. Nothing to do with how baby is fed.

I'm not a big fan of sleep training, either. You are NOT doing anything wrong. It's pretty normal for babies to want to eat at night too. When my twin boys got a little older, I night weaned them, but it wasn't until they were close to 2.

Here's some great information about sleep from Dr. Sears:
http://askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-probl...

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